If you suffer from debilitating nerves before stepping into the spotlight I have some great news for you. You aren’t alone.
Just about everyone suffers from nerves of some kind before they make a public appearance or speak up in front of an audience. Even the most experienced orator has a flurry of anxiety before they take to the lectern.
Most accomplished speakers have simply mastered the ability to keep their inner nerves under check so that they don’t show on the outside. And you can too. Believe me. It’s what I learned to do.
Friday evening was my first ever experience of live television. I was taking part in a fund raising telethon organised by County Channel TV for a local cancer unit (The Lingen Davies Cancer Unit). Having done a pre-recorded interview, which was a wonderful experience I thought live TV would be a gentle stroll in the park.
As I sat on the sofa, ahead of my interview, I became aware of my nerves, real nerves, overwhelming nerves. My legs started shaking. I felt cold, really cold, and I realised that my face was twitching uncontrollably. Five minutes before a live broadcast I realised that this was not good. Not good at all.
While the rest of the team started a run through of what was about to happen in the broadcast I began to think about what was happening inside me. What was making me feel nervous? What was I afraid of? How on earth was I going to get through the next five minutes or so? Why on earth did I agree to do this?
As I rationalised with myself. As I tried to get things into some kind of perspective. As I listen to the hubbub surrounding me. I had a light bulb moment, a realisation, an epiphany. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest. I was excited!
Excitement and nerves manifest themselves in very similar ways but so often we decide that we must be feeling nervous when in fact we are quite simply excited beyond belief!
Nerves are a protection mechanism. They are our body’s way of telling us that we might be in danger. That we should be on guard. To keep our wits about us. Feeling excited, on the other hand, is a wonderful emotion. It is a spontaneous flurry of enthusiasm. It is what reminds us that we are alive. Alive and kicking!
What danger could I possibly be in on live TV? What really was the worst thing that could happen to me and, more importantly, would it have any lasting impact on my ability to survive the night? No.
Once I recognised this, and I have to say it was only just in the nick of time. My legs stopped shaking. My palms became less clammy and my thoughts became clearer. And as the director counted down 3…2…1…ACTION. I was ready.
So, next time you start to feel those nerves welling up inside you. Next time your palms start to sweat and your knees knock. Ask yourself this…
- What is there to be afraid of?
- Am I in danger?
- Is my life at risk?
If none of these is a reality, then consider this.
You might just be bursting with excitement and my overwhelming advice to you would be to ENJOY the moment before it passes!
Of course, recognising the difference between the two emotions can be tricky and, keeping them both in check takes skill and practice but people there are many tricks and tips that you can learn to help you do that.